What COVID-19 Taught Us About Lease-to-Own

What COVID-19 Taught Us About Lease-to-Own
Jeffrey Allen Brand Specialist Progressive Leasing
Sep 2, 2020
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect the economic landscape, Lease-to-Own remains a stable and reliable option for many credit-challenged consumers.

For two decades, Progressive Leasing has provided shoppers with an alternative option for purchasing the things they need. As the leading company in the Lease-to-Own industry, we’ve experienced a number of changes in consumer behavior over the last 20 years. New to LTO (and more broadly, retail) was the sudden and rapid spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. While we’ve evolved over time to embrace changes in technology and the socio-economic landscape, the coronavirus presented an entirely different set of obstacles.  

The retail environment in the United States has rarely seen such a wide-spread issue, one that’s affected nearly every location, business, and individual across the nation. As the effects of COVID-19 spread throughout the country, we anticipated shopping habits would be influenced by restrictions, closures, and other health-related considerations. These new changes had the potential to fundamentally alter not only how Lease-to-Own purchase options worked, but also how customers used these alternative payment methods. 

When businesses started moving their services online, though, we noticed an interesting trend within the LTO sphere. Instead of seeing a decrease of individuals seeking alternative payment methods, the number of LTO applications remained stable. We discovered many consumers were shifting from credit purchases to utilize Lease-to-Own options.

Looking into these results, we saw credit card companies were tightening their approvals for all applicants. Many shoppers also couldn’t qualify for installment plans, as even those companies were turning away customers. In a time when personal finances were in question, individuals were unable to qualify for conventional means of credit. This led them to discover Lease-to-Own purchase options, with approval requirements far more accommodating than credit cards. Shoppers still had the means to get the things they needed, and businesses still had a flow of customers. Because of our scale, we were able to help retailers across the country maintain and even grow their businesses as customers moved to online shopping.

As the coronavirus continues to impact daily life, more and more people struggle to get the things they need. According to Experian1, this was a major problem even before the outbreak, with nearly 35% of the population considered sub-prime. In an effort to accommodate these consumers, Progressive Leasing helps shoppers find the things they need from the stores they trust, with over 30,000 partner retail locations across the country. Our quick and easy application process has led to industry-leading customer satisfaction, while our simple, flexible payment schedules give people the freedom to truly choose the best option for them.

This service is not only a benefit to customers, but to retailers as well. We responded quickly as online shopping became a necessity for many locations, and we fully support retailers in their accelerated focus on e-comm and online LTO purchase options. We further help our partners by offering an optimized e-comm integration experience available for all major platforms, providing an expansive set of tools to better reach and accommodate shoppers. 

While COVID-19 remains a very new and somewhat unknown variable for retailers around the country, it’s shown that alternative purchase options are still very much in demand. Supporting retailers and their customers during this time has proven that Lease-to-Own purchase options remain an important fixture for a large part of the population. As financial stress continues to rise within the U.S., Progressive Leasing remains a strong, constant force for leveling the playing field. Retailers can still provide a much-needed service for their shoppers, while customers with subprime credit can still enjoy the same opportunities as those with better credit, both through the good economic times and the bad. 

References
1.  https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/research/subprime-study/
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